OWASCO — Dickman Farms Greenhouses & Garden Center is in the process of being transformed into a movie theater for its Va Va Bloom Garden Show this weekend.
As one of the top 100 revolutionary garden centers in the nation according to Today's Garden Center magazine, Dickman Farms prides itself "on being on the forefront of gardening trends," General Manager Stephanie Whitehouse said. Va Va Bloom began as a way to kick off spring and showcase plants to new customers, she continued, "and over the last couple of years it has evolved to become a garden show, farmers market, music and food live event and there are now themes every year."
Vibrant blooms and dramatic foliage are taking the spotlight in this year's theme, "The Color of Va Va Bloom," which is "all about the movies," Whitehouse said.
"Our customers, or guests, who come to the event are kind of like the movie stars of a big movie premiere," she said.
Guests will enter the garden center on a red carpet with faux paparazzi waiting to greet them. As guests continue through the garden show, they'll notice each display is inspired by a different movie genre, including western, fantasy, horror and romance themes. Whitehouse said guests "can be part of the whole movie experience" as they visit, and the staff hopes they interact, and even take selfies, with the different vignettes.
Each movie genre display will illuminate "the Oscar winners for the day" with a spotlight on a plant and a new gardening tool or product on the market this year, Whitehouse said.
"I think this is one of the first years where the theme has been one that's actually been really, really fun — the whole staff has gotten into it," Whitehouse said. An example of this is the larger-than-life Audrey from a display themed after "Little Shop of Horrors." Audrey took about a week to put together, Whitehouse said, but "she's going to be awesome by the time it's all done."
In part due to the festival's movie theme, a new aspect of Va Va Bloom this year is a partnership with Auburn Public Theater. Saturday morning, there will be a live performance by Auburn Public Studio’s Exchange Street Records students.
"(APT) is going to come and do song and dance and wonderfulness," Whitehouse laughed. She added that Dickman Farms and APT are working on another event for the summer, and are doing a year-round partnership of sorts this year.
Two new food trucks — Phat Kat Tacos and Potatoes and Molasses — are joining three returning favorites in the food truck caravan this year. Whitehouse said about a third of the 50 different local vendors making up the farmers market — farmers, producers, breweries, wineries and artisans — are also new. "We try to have a healthy number of new folks just to keep it interesting," she said.
Live music, a silent auction supporting Champions for Life, exclusive greenhouse tours and eight seminars and three workshops will be taking place throughout the weekend, as in previous years.
Whitehouse said some partners for seminars and workshops Dickman has "worked with forever and a day," while other topics were decided in response to the garden center receiving a lot of questions on them, such as how to care for hydrangeas. In response to that question, Dickman asked author Tim Boebel to share unique methods on blooming beautiful hydrangeas from a recent book.
"We try to make sure the topics are different each year and are pertinent to either the challenges our customers are having or trends that are up and coming in the gardening world," Whitehouse said.
"Va Va is certainly the biggest event that we do," Whitehouse said. "It takes a lot of coordination. Thankfully, we've done it enough times that our team is so wonderful and on top of it.
"It's our favorite event every year. ... It's just a wonderful celebratory kickoff for spring. I can't say enough good things about it."